If you’re over the age of ten and you’ve got a tail to wag, then you’ve got a friend at House With A Heart Senior Animal Sanctuary.
For nearly thirty years, Sherry Lynn Polvinale and her husband rescued dogs and cats. As the years went on, though, they got more and more calls from people who just “couldn’t keep” their senior dogs.
“I got to a point where I couldn’t stand trying to find the right home for these guys and not knowing if the owners will be committed for life. This way, we know that they’re totally safe,” Polvinale told Good News Network.
“I thought, ‘I’m getting older, and a treat for myself is going to be rescuing seniors and keeping them safe until they pass away’.”
In 2006, they began operating with official nonprofit status for their Gaithersburg, Maryland home and have continued to transform it into a haven for four-legged residents who hail from all over the country.
While her husband was still alive, only ten dogs lived in the home; when he passed away, she made room for thirty.
The home relies solely on donations from people who want to give, or those who want to board their pets there instead of dropping them at a kennel.
Feeding time for 24 specific diets is no small fete, but at 4pm sharp, meals that have been prepared throughout the day are always ready to go. All of the residents dine in their assigned rooms with their main companions.
When you meet these little guys, it’s impossible to imagine someone giving them up.
Sugar (pictured above left), a little four pound Mi-Ki, a cross between a Japanese chin, Maltese, Papillion, and Shih-Tzu, has yet to touch the ground with her tiny paws because she is always being held and cuddled by volunteers.
Then there’s Papa and Petey, two little 11-year-old dachshunds with no teeth who always sleep together in a big bed under the blankets.
At night, Sherry sleeps on the couch so she can be close to the pair and hear if they need her.
“Petey will sneak out really quietly from the covers and fly up on the couch with me. He’s trying to sneak away because Papa will wake up and be upset,” she explains. “Last night, Papa couldn’t get comfortable, so I got up with him five times.”
Sherry wakes up at 5:30 every morning, and goes to bed around 1am.
“Never do I feel like oh my gosh, what a pain, you’re waking me up. I never feel like that. As long as he needs me and is barking, it means he’s still here and he’s still alive,” she said.
“It’s probably the most expensive dog bathroom in the world,” Sherry admitted. “But when they get older, they can’t go outside in certain weather. You wouldn’t send a 90-year-old woman to use an outhouse, would you?”
At the moment, they can’t take in any new dogs that are not over the age of 14—Sherry says she doesn’t want to take in any dogs that might outlive her—but is currently planning to begin a grant-giving program that will help other people start similar programs or adopt and care for senior dogs themselves.
“I don’t think this can go on for than another 5-10 years unless someone comes out of the woodwork to do what I’m doing,” she said.
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(WATCH the video below from Montgomery County Council to learn more) – Photos from House With A Heart on Facebook